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    “AMONG FRIENDS” (DVD Review)

    You’re invited to a party!It is prom night in 1984 so put on your best frilly dress, crimp your hair (or fix that mullet), get ready for a totally awesome night where once you notice that someone is missing, you’ll need to sort out which one of your closest friends is a killer. Sound like fun? This quirky set up, an 80s-themed murder mystery dinner party, is the perfect pretext for a twisted, blood-soaked night of revelations that doesn’t disappoint in Danielle Harris’ premiere directorial effort, AMONG FRIENDS.

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    “THE BURNING” (Blu-ray/DVD Review)

    THE BURNING is one of those movies that, for years, was as noted for what it wasn’t as much as for what it was. Which is to say, it was one of the most celebrated casualties of the MPAA’s scissors from the slasher-happy early 1980s, in no small part because the carnage that was cut was created by gore FX master Tom Savini. The loss of these money shots helped build up a bit of a mystique about THE BURNING, before it was finally restored for DVD several years back; it’s now out on a Blu-ray/DVD combo from Shout! Factory.

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    “Q: THE WINGED SERPENT” (Scream Factory Blu Review)

    Week after week, we are “treated” to monster movies on the Syfy channel, most of which seem to be based on a template script that they never bothered to personalize; random people are chomped or stomped, a hero (usually played someone from a Syfy show, or a has-been) comes on the scene, suspects things are wrong despite heavy opposition from the mayor or someone (bonus if they go full JAWS and insist that the town parade/bicentennial/dog track opening remains on schedule), gets some proof with the aid of a lovely lady, and kills the beast as a one-man army.  Usually his teenager, often visiting against their will, will go off with some new friends and find themselves trapped by the monster, adding some (very minimal) personal stakes for our hero, who will rescue them and earn their respect in one fell swoop.  These movies aren’t given the biggest budgets in the world, so I can more or less forgive the cheesy FX, but the anonymity that they all possess truly baffles me. Why are they so opposed to the idea of making them memorable?

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    “X-RAY/SCHIZOID” (Blu-ray/DVD Review)

    A double feature that could well have been emblazoned across marquees back in the early ’80s, X-RAY and SCHIZOID are a pair of second-level slashers from the indefatigable Cannon Films, newly issued on a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack on Shout! Factory’s Scream Factory line as a sort of time machine back to the days when every other movie seemed to be a HALLOWEEN/FRIDAY THE 13TH knockoff.

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    “WITHER” (Movie Review)

    Whether WITHER positioned itself as a child of Sam Raimi’s iconic low budget debut or not, the lineage would be easy to trace. A group of friends, an old cabin in the woods, rampant possession and a particularly nasty air are all elements shared by Tommy Wiklund & Sonny Laguna’s latest and the 1981 all-timer THE EVIL DEAD. If WITHER doesn’t exactly measure up to its prominent stylistic influence (most homage doesn’t), it can’t be too heavily faulted. And hell, it’s not for lack of trying. For all its gore and grue, the Swedish tale of terror achieves its goal of being off-putting, but in all the wrong ways.  

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    “HAROLD’S GOING STIFF” (Movie Review)

    The vast majority of the post-NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD zombie canon has conditioned audiences to accept, without question, the premise that if not somehow contained, the appearance of walking dead leads inexorably to apocalypse. Fast or slow, sentient or comatose, the zombies are not only coming to get poor Barbara in the graveyard—they’re out to decimate civilization.

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    Jess Franco’s “A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD” (Blu-ray Review)

    Those that dismiss the elephantine and obsessive filmography of the late cinema slinger Jess Franco would be wise to sit down and absorb what might be his greatest film of the 1970s, if not his storied career: CHRISTINA, PRINCESS OF EROTICISM or, as it’s more commonly referred to as–including on the sleeve of Repemption/Kino Lorber’s superlative Blu-ray release–A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD.

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    “SATURDAY MORNING MYSTERY” (Movie Review)

    SATURDAY MORNING MYSTERY offers a tantalizing concept previously untouched by the genre: a grown-up, live-action, horror-movie take on SCOOBY-DOO. Spunky heroine Nancy (Ashley Spillers)—essentially a flesh-and-blood version of Velma—and her three pals Gwen (Josephine Decker), Chad (Adam Tate) and Floyd (Jonny Mars), who happen to bear a number of similarities to Daphne, Fred and Shaggy respectively, are paranormal investigators who cruise around solving mysteries with their dog Hamlet via an orange Volkswagen bus.

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    “YOU’RE NEXT” (Movie Review)

    It’s understandable if, as a viewer, you initially experience difficulty being eloquent when it comes to navigating and expressing thoughts on YOU’RE NEXT. If so, it’s because the literal buzzing you’re feeling upon its end leaves you with essentially one word: great.

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